Tips and Tricks for Inventing - The Development of a Creative Idea
Independently of the field you are working in, creative ideas are always appreciated and can take you up the career ladder. But not everyone is born with an innovative spirit. Sometimes, you have the necessary skills, but your creativity is blocked. It happens to many people these days that they have forgotten to think freely due to stress, pressure to perform, worries, or tight hierarchies in the workplace. Free thinking, "thinking outside the box", connecting ideas, and understanding links or problems are the prerequisites for brainstorming. Hence, once an idea has been formulated, it is important to technically implement it. Which is often the point where problems arise. The following article intends to provide important tips on how to solving a technical problem systematically.
For inventors, as well as for start-up companies, fresh ideas are essential. But you don't have to be Gyro Gearloose or have a thinking cap to stimulate the grey cells in hatching ideas. Did you know that since the 1950s, there has been a method systematizing "inventing" and providing a "theory for solving inventive problems"? This method is called TRIZ. TRIZ is an acronym for the Russian term "Teoria reschenija isobretatjelskich zadatsch", meaning "Theory of inventive problem solving". It was developed by the two Russians Genrich Saulowitsch Altschuller and Rafael Borissowitsch Shapiro. Altschuller, a Russian engineer, inventor and science fiction author, believed that anyone can learn to be an inventor. He derived this view by systematically reviewing over 200,000 patent specifications together with Shapiro. From this, the two developed a contradiction table and 40 rules of innovation which should enable anyone to solve an inventive problem.
The TRIZ Method in Brief
By using this method, inventors can systematize their problem solving. Through this approach, a technical problem is reduced to its abstract components, in order to find an abstract solution. Once this found, it can in turn be transformed back into a concrete solution.
TRIZ is nowadays used for millions of times worldwide and it has been further developed over the course of time. By now, another seven methods have been added to the original seven methods of classic TRIZ.
Learning the TRIZ Method
The TRIZ method is a very effective, but also complex approach to solving an inventive problem. In order to understand TRIZ in its depth and also to implement it systematically, there are various workshops and seminars offered by numerous providers.
Further Methods of Identifying Problems and Finding Solutions
The first way to arrive at innovative concepts is to choose a problem that still exists in a current concept. New developments are often neither perfect nor practicable, and need to be refined further. If you find something from your industry representing the zeitgeist but still improvable, let your mind brood over it. The more you allow your subconscious mind to deal with the question, the faster it will generate possible solutions. For instance, the idea for an e-bike was conceived about 150 years ago, but the heavy weight of available batteries motors back then stood against the invention's success - in the truest sense of the word. It was only with the availability of small and lightweight lithium-ion batteries that e-bikes gained new fame from the 1990s onward.
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The Combination of Existing Concepts
Another possibility to convince customers, bosses, or product testers is to combine old concepts and create a better, more innovative approach from these. Shower gel and shampoo are working concepts. Most people use them. For frequent travelers and frequent flyers, the combination of both in one bottle was a space-saving and welcome innovation. And it is precisely for these people that the toothpaste-dispensing toothbrush of the future could be of great interest.
Identifying and Exploiting Trends
If you intend to create a new, interesting solution, investigate the zeitgeist. Knowing what is occupying people now - what is being well received, what is being complained about - can be helpful in conceptualizing starting points for ideas. Anyone who can see the future trends is clearly at an advantage. Although sometimes, it can help to search patent databases as well to find out what has already been registered in the relevant industry but has not yet established itself. Accordingly, different approaches to solutions with the insights of an accomplished search for relevant patents may even result in a new patent.
Allow Many Ideas and Choose the Best One
Another way to develop a good idea is to allow for multiple ideas to start with. This has less to do with brainstorming than with motivation. First of all, take the problem seriously and concentrate on finding solutions for it. Inventors are usually characterized by high drive and productivity. Not every newly suggested item is usable, but perhaps an outstanding idea comes to your mind every six months. Secondly, be familiar with the areas you are thinking about. Try to generate as much knowledge as possible in the field in which you work and related subject areas. Read everything about the topic! It will feed your brain the necessary inspiration.
Companies sometimes offer their employees opportunities to develop their skills in many different areas. However, many companies limit themselves to one specialist area and only promote further training in this particular field. This, nevertheless, constrains the development of new ideas. Ideas come about by combining knowledge and experience from various different specialist areas.
Misjudgments in History - Prominent Inventions and Their Doubters
Do you sometimes doubt your ideas? Do you hear things like "What's the point?" or "That's never gonna happen"? Don't let these stop you from pursuing your development.
After Enlightenment - What to do with an Idea?
Once the eureka moment finally arrived, it is necessary to decide how to protect one's new idea. Since creative progress needs to be promoted, protecting an idea alone is not possible. Secrecy is what only works well here until the idea has been conceptualized and implemented in a product. However, the embodiment of the idea is then subject to copyright and can be applied for a patent if manifested as commercially usable object. Refer to the other articles on our website ("Implementing the Invention" and "Why Should you Protect your Invention?"). Patent protection lasts a maximum of 25 years.
If neither copyright nor trademark rights have been applied for, freedom of imitation applies. This implies that new ideas may also be implemented in innovative ways as well.
If you want to develop new ideas, look for topics that are important to you. Only then will you have enough motivation to generate the necessary knowledge for successful brainstorming. Choose problems from such familiar areas and apply TRIZ for systematic problem solving. Once the problem solved, i.e. the invention made, keep it secret until implemented. Only then is it possible to have the invention legally protected.